How Did I Manage My Money at Uni?

In March I did a similar post, however that was about tips on how to save money, not how to manage it. This blog will focus on how to make the most of every penny.

I used a spreadsheet… for four weeks…

I’m not opening strong here. I spent a lot of time colour-coding a spreadsheet, with goals in the corner. “Try to save £20 a week,” “don’t go into savings,” I wrote. I abandoned the spreadsheet after a month and I don’t regret it. After a day of lessons, do I really want to start plugging numbers into the computer? If you enjoy this, I recommend it! However a banking app was more than enough for me to keep an eye on money.

I was careful

It really was that simple for me. I had a good loan and my second flat rent (choosing a cheaper accommodation is always an idea; Back Halls is £2,400 for the academic year!) was cheap, so I had enough to splurge if I chose to. However, I pinched pennies by shopping at Aldi and not ordering takeaways. I was doing a food shop for as cheap as £12 (investing in non-perishables like pasta and rice goes a long way!) and even in my most expensive accommodation, that still saved me around £28 per week (by dividing my loan after rent by the 40 week contract). There was the launderette, which was less than £3. By using a drying rack, I was able to save money on the dryers in the launderette.

What could I have done differently?

With differing rent and loans, this story doesn’t apply to everyone. My friends recommend splitting a weekly food shop (can be cost effective), as well as sharing a washing machine with a friend.

Closing words

Money is a big worry for a lot of people when it comes to University. However, our accommodation is great value for price and there are ways to be thrifty. If you do find yourself struggling financially, our University does have teams to support you. Rest assured, money isn’t as big of a barrier for Uni students as you might think.

-Tony

Budgeting as a Student

Before coming to University, there’s a good chance you’ve heard students talking about how little money they have. No matter how generous your student loan can be, it can be easy to spend too much and be left with pennies. However, there are plenty of small changes you can make to stop yourself going into your overdraft. In this blog, I’m going to talk about how I’ve managed my money.

Treating Yourself

It can be tempting to splurge – and you should! University is stressful, and you should spend money to enjoy yourself. Usually, people would treat themselves to a takeaway, and although they’re nice, they’re expensive. At ALDI, you can buy pizzas for as cheap as 65p, and as expensive as £3. You can also buy curry sauce, rice, and sides for less than £5. With takeaway pizzas usually costing as cheap as £6, by doing this you’re saving more than £5, which can make a huge difference while still getting the takeaway experience. Side note: A majority of ALDI’s items are the cheapest in Ormskirk, so it’s more economical to do most/all your shopping there!

Going Out

Liverpool is a train ride away and can make for a nice night out. However, a cinema trip can cost £12 (£5 for a train ticket with railcard and £7 for the cinema ticket). Instead of spending £12 to see a film, why not take a five-minute walk to see a free film every Friday in our Arts Centre? The £12 you’re saving can go towards clothes or a food shop.

Getting a Job

Shops in Ormskirk are always hiring, but there are opportunities to earn money on campus, such as being a student representative. This can be beneficial if your student loan is low, although a job would be another factor to accommodate for in your work-life balance. Thankfully, there is support at University to help you manage your time, as well as helping you manage money.

Closing Words

Saving money doesn’t mean you have to cut out all the things you enjoy in your life. You just may need to splash out less frequently, and look for alternative, cheaper ways. I’ve never had any issues with money, and I’ve been able to enjoy myself (as have many of my friends, so hopefully these ideas will be effective for you.

Ways to Save Money on Campus (Part 1)

The student budget is an old cliche for a reason – pretty much every student is on a tight budget! Even if you’re not on the classic student budget, you’re probably still up for a freebie or a bargain if there’s one going. Well, you’re in luck. Now that I’m in my second year and on a tighter budget than ever, I have gathered some excellent ways to save money and find freebies on campus.

In this two-part mini-series, I’ll begin with how to make your spending work hard for you before sharing some more extreme penny-pinching tips in part 2.

Subway Points

Nestled within the SU building is our very own Subway, serving delicious sandwiches, salads, and snacks all day every day. You’re probably thinking “That’s not necessarily a cheap lunch, Sam” but hear me out. If you scan your Subcard when you make a purchase, you earn points and activate a ‘double points for 7 days’ incentive. Return again within those 7 days for their budget meal deal and scan your card again. The cycle starts again. Very quickly, you have enough points for a free 6-inch sub or salad bowl – I regularly purchase their budget meal deals and have a few free lunches a month!

Most Subway receipts also have the option to get a free cookie when you review your experience online. It takes 2 minutes, maximum.

Loyalty Cards for Coffee Lovers

The coffee shop I visit most on campus is 53.3 degrees within the Catalyst. Handily, they offer a loyalty card that earns you a free coffee when you collect enough stamps. If you’re a coffee lover you very quickly fill a card and get your freebie. The cookies in there are also delicious – highly recommend! Anyone else spotting a cookie theme here?

Discounted Coffee

Whilst we’re on the subject, bringing a reusable coffee mug will get you 20p off your drink. This in itself very quickly adds up to the equivalent of an extra coffee and also eliminates the amount of waste. Who doesn’t love helping the planet?

Now that I’ve helped you to make your lunch and coffees work for you, don’t forget to check back for part 2 of this mini-series where I will be digging a little deeper for those occasions where your purse or wallet is really looking dire. We’ll be talking leftovers, emergency tea bags and staying hydrated.

Sam xo

Five Top Tips for Completing Your Student Finance Application

Hi everyone, since Student Finance has opened, I thought I would use this blog to provide five top tips for completing your application!

 1. You don’t need an offer to apply

If you are still waiting for offers, no problem, you can still apply! Complete your application using your first preferred university and course, and if this changes you can update your application later on.


2. Make sure your application details are correct

Have your UCAS course code to hand and choose the correct academic year and mode of study i.e. full-time – this is very important if you don’t want your loan delayed.


3. Provide any supporting documentation quickly

You might be asked to send original documents with your application, if you are, send any documents requested from Student Finance by recorded delivery and track the delivery as you definitely won’t want them to get lost in the post.


4. Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions

Lots of support and guidance is offered by Student Finance themselves in the Student Finance Zone – scroll down to the bottom of the page for links to your correct student finance as they are different depending on where you live in the UK. Just make sure you apply before the deadline to get your money on time.  In my case I applied through Student Finance NI. Additionally, if you still have any questions you can email think@edgehill.ac.uk


5. Enrol promptly to release your funding in September

Your first payment is usually made around 3-5 working days after you are registered on course and the Uni has confirmed your attendance with Student Finance so it is important you complete your enrolment. Details are sent out to firm choice students over the summer so look out for that.

Thanks for reading and good luck 🙂

 

 

 


Food Shop – Budgeting Your Money

For a lot of people, one of the biggest worries about coming to uni is money. Will I have enough of it? What happens if I spend too much in freshers week? How does paying for my accommodation work? All of these are things I worried about before arriving at Edge Hill, so I’m here to pass on some knowledge I’ve learnt in my time here.

Firstly, if you’re worried about spending too much of your loan before your accommodation payment comes out, you can arrange with the accommodation team to take the payment out as soon as it comes in, so you can’t be tempted to spend too much too soon!

Another way I learnt to keep track of my spending was to budget my weekly food shop. I was lucky enough to have parents that sent me £30 a week for this purpose, as my maintenance loan minus my accommodation fee wouldn’t allow for this.

£30 may not sound like a lot, but with some careful planning and shopping around, (as we’re lucky enough to have multiple supermarkets in Ormskirk)  I found out that it was plenty to keep me fed for a week, and I often even had a little left over for a treat or two.

Here is a basic break down of a generic weekly shop for me:

Aldi: I would usually use Aldi as a starting point, as it has lots of different food bits that I could pick up, such as sauces and salad kits, which I could then add to from Morrison’s.

Potatoes: £1. Sweet Potatoes: £1. Stir Fry Kit: £2.50. Instant Noodles (x3): £1.20. Cheese: £1.90. Apples: £1.30 Pasta Bake Sauce: 65p. Crisps: £1. Sweet and Sour Sauce: 85p. Spread: £1.90. Ham: £1.45.

Added together this cost me £14.75, about half of my weekly budget, and I now have the main elements of evening meals and lunch.

Morrison’s: I know would use Morrison’s to add to the dishes, and pick up any extra bargains I could see, as Morrison’s often have clearance areas, and these are great for finding meat, cheese and other treats.

Steak: £2.50. Chicken and Pork: 2 for £5 offer. Part baked baguettes (x2 packs): 90p. Pasta: £1. Pineapple: £1. Ice Cream: £1.50. Squash: £1. Milk: £1. Cereal Bars: £1.

Added together this comes to £14.90, giving an overall total of £29.65, keeping just under budget. Some weeks, this would be considerably less, as I wouldn’t need some items every week, such as the packs of meat, squash, and spread, leaving me some money left over for the occasional takeaway of fast food trip.

Hopefully this has helped some people, or at least given you an idea of what to expect when you come to do your very first food shop for yourself!

Applicant Visit Days Ahoy!

With the beginning of February comes the Applicant Visit Days, typically held between now and March/April, non-interviewing applicants will soon receive notice of these wonderful days – maybe you already have! Although I personally did not attend an applicant visit day for Biology, I have worked for the Biology Department as an Applicant Visit Day Helper, therefore I know a little something about what goes down on one of these visit days.

The Edge Hill University Biology Department is home to many sub-disciplines, from ecology to human biology – despite this, students from different courses will certainly overlap both in the common first year and in shared modules. In account of this, the Applicant Visit Day has an introductory talk given to the cohort as a whole, as well as area specific activities with a focus on either ecology, human biology, or genetics, for example. When I worked the Applicant Visit Day last year, I supervised the ecology taster session – and introduction to invertebrate ecology and identification, using keys and microscopes. Also part of the Biology section on Applicant Visit Days is the building tour, where you get a better look at the labs and equipment available to use once you begin studying with us. With the opening of the Tech Hub and the top floor lab, there’s even more space and equipment to use!

Facilities
The Biosciences building for Biology at Edge Hill

I have also worked for the Money Advice Team on applicant visit days, as a Money Buddy, positioned in The Hub. The Money Advice Team hold presentations on student finance, as well as budgeting – particularly from a student’s point of view (hence the Money Buddies). My role was to speak to potential future students about financial help offered by EHU as well as budgeting advice.

The Tech Hub

One of the pros of attending an Applicant Visit day (other than getting a better feel for your course and department) is getting to meet other students. If you’re worried about meeting new people at university, your course is the best place to start, and Applicant Visit days give you a head start. I hope you’re able to attend one and take advantage of this opportunity!

Student Finance and the Money Advice Team

With Student Finance applications opening soon, money may be on the mind. Edge Hill University does a lot to help ease money woes and provides numerous services and opportunities. On such resource is the Money Matters website, which has useful information on loans (which I have briefly detailed below), grants, bursaries, scholarships, and more!

There are two loans available from the government for undergraduate university study:

Tuition Fee Loan:
This is something you largely don’t have to worry about. You can borrow enough to cover the tuition fee for your course and is not means tested. This will be paid directly to your university – I didn’t worry about it once I had applied.

Maintenance Loan:
To help with food, accommodation and travel, this loan will depend on a variety of factors: household income, whether you’re living at home or away, the exact location of your residence, and more. The maximum amount able to be received is £8,700, or £9,916 if you qualify for the increased Maintenance Loan. This will be received directly, usually in three instalments, to your bank account or building society.

Managing the money from your maintenance loan might seem like a challenge. Typically, you receive roughly a third per term and will have to budget your money to last appropriately, accounting for rent, food, other essentials and any left over for spending (i.e. social events, shopping).

This is where the Money Advice Team can help. Available for drop-ins Monday and Friday, 10am-1pm, and Tuesday and Thursday from 1pm-4pm, they can lend a hand in keeping your finances on track, providing budgeting tips and techniques as well as information about the Student Support Fund and part-time job opportunities.

Not only are there a number of jobs on campus available to Edge Hill students (such as open day helpers and library staff), the Money Advice Team can help you find jobs in the surrounding area such as St Helens, Preston, and Liverpool.

My A-Z of Edge Hill University

A – Art’s Centre: The Art’s Centre hosts a wide range of entertainment available for anyone – film, theatre, and music. Currently, students can get a free membership that comes with a few free tickets.
B – Biosciences: Obviously the greatest department around, is the department of biology. The building is filled with great equipment such as the electron microscope as well as having the brand new tech hub lab next door. Of course, the department staff are as well phenomenal – the technicians, administrators and lecturers.
C – Campus: Our wonderful campus is fairly small but incredibly beautiful. With two lakes and plenty of green spaces, you will never be far from nature, yet the modern facilities are equally as stunning.
D – Ducks: If you don’t know already, you should know that the ducks on campus are essentially the mascots of our uni.
E – Edge Link: The Edge Link Bus runs from campus to Ormskirk throughout the day, roughly every 15 minutes.
F – Facilities: Many impressive facilities exist at Edge Hill, the newest of which is the Techhub. It hosts the new biotechnology lab, as well as the CAVE. Other buildings worth mentioning are Creative Edge and Sporting Edge – both being modern facilities for the computery creative and the athletic populations of Edge Hill.
G – Green: Facilities Management became the second university in the UK to gain the Green Flag Award for maintaining an attractive and welcoming campus. Our uni is also green in that it is environmentally conscious, sporting solar panels, ground source heating and thermal heat recovery.
H – History: Edge Hill College, as it was once known, was originally a women-only teaching college, until accepting men in 1959. The history of Edge HIll has links to women’s rights and the Suffragette movement.
I – International: The International office allows students the opportunity to study abroad on the ERASMUS+ program. We have links to Sweden, Cyprus, Belgium, and many more.
J – Joint Honours: Those wishing to study a joint or combined honours degree will find a number of options available to them at Edge Hill, particularly in the Humanities subjects on offer here.
K – Knowledge: Those studying at Edge Hill will gain knowledge into their degree subject that only a lecturer could give. Studying Biology at Edge Hill has presented me with many opportunities to learn that would not have been available to me otherwise.
L – Liverpool: A mere 30 minutes on the train from Liverpool, Ormskirk is nicely situated near the bustling city.
M – Money Advice Team: The Money Advice Team offer advice at drop-in sessions all throughout the term, providing support on money management as well as information regarding scholarships and the hardship fund.
N – Nightlife: There are few clubs and bars in Ormskirk, as well as the SU Bar and Quad, ensuring you will have plenty of choices if you decide on a night in town.
O – Ormskirk: A quaint market town that makes a lovely place to call your home away from home. From the clock tower to coronation park, I know I’ve come to love it.
P – PGCE: Qualifications for teaching are also available at Edge Hill, alongside other undergrad and postgrad degrees.
Q – Queer representation: Our students’ union have both an LGBT+ Officer and also the upcoming position of a Trans Officer.
R – Red Bar: The Red Bar – adjacent the Arts Centre – is the location of the Open Mic nights and serves delicious pizza! The staff are incredibly welcoming too. Also here are many board games for a nice quiet social time.
S – Societies and Sports: So! Many! Societies! Ranging from Sports clubs to liberation or recreational socs.
T – Tutors: I can speak from experience when I say that my personal tutor has been very supportive of me and has provided great support when I’ve needed it. Personal tutors definitely make an important part of the incredible student support system at Edge Hill.
U – University of the Year: Back in 2014-5, Edge Hill won the University of the Year in 10th annual Times Higher Education (THE) Awards – a title it rightfully deserves!
V – Varsity: The annual sporting competition between us and the University of Central Lancashire is a great opportunity to get involved in competitive sport. Bonus V – Vikings: The Edge Hill American football team!
W – Whatuni awards: This year, Edge Hill won top accommodation, third for student support, and placed in the top five for Courses and Lecturers and Uni Facilities.
X – Xenobiotics: One of the areas of study by our biology department is mosquitoes as a vector for human disease. A topic that accompanies this is the use of insecticides – xenobiotics – to kerb the spread of said diseases.
Y – You: Our Student’s Union values you, and is made by you. Our bar and house staff are students, as are the elected officers, president and vice presidents.
Z – Zoo: Chester zoo is not far, and was one of the trips I attended during the first few weeks of my biology degree. It was a great icebreaker and helped form bonds that would only be strengthened in Cyprus, another trip in the first term of my first term of Biology.

Money Makes the World Go ‘Round: Budgeting for Students

Financial troubles are one of the biggest causes of stress for students and it’s not surprising. Since a lot of students go from living with their parents, not having to pay for much, to fending for themselves and probably having a lot less money than they are used to, they find it a struggle to stick to a budget. I thought I’d share with you a few tips that I’ve found useful in saving and managing money during my time at uni.

Draw up a budget and stick to it

The best way to keep track of how much money you have is to create a budgeting document. This highlights all the ingoing and outgoing money and from that you can work out how much you have spare to spend each week. I find that the most effective way of doing this on a word document but if you’re feeling it you can transfer it to an excel spreadsheet that you can colour code to easily refer back to. I get very excited over spreadsheets…

After you have drawn up a budget the biggest challenge is sticking to it! What I find helps to combat that is to keep track of everything you spend – I do this on the notes app of my phone – and then you won’t have any nasty surprises next time you check your bank balance. It will also prompt you to make smarter choices if you see what you are actually spending all your money on.

Shop smarter

A great way to save money is to try and go for cheaper shops such as Aldi or B&M. Finding cheaper alternatives to things you can afford to scrimp on will save you a lot of money. I tend to do my weekly shop in Aldi for around £15, whereas in first year I was spending nearly £30 a week in Morrisons! It also helps if you plan out your meals for the week and draw up a shopping list from there so you know exactly what you are getting, rather than aimlessly browsing the aisles.

Be harsh

To save money you have to be super harsh with yourself. If money is tight begin to really question whether you need something before spending the money on it – if you get into the habit of assessing the worth of what you buy you will begin to realise what you actually use and what is a waste of money.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you find yourself knee deep in your over-draft don’t just suffer in silence, speak to someone who may help you lift yourself out of it. Asking your friends and family for financial help may seem daunting and I don’t entirely recommend it but of you are in a really sticky situation the best thing to do is tell someone and they may be able to give you the help you need, whether that is a loan or some advice. Never go to loans companies above people you trust, it won’t end well!

Biological Applicant Day

From February to April 1st, applicant days are occurring here at EHU and you may be wondering what it’s like and how it will benefit you. Since Edge Hill University is so far away from my hometown, I could only make it to an Open Day, and not the applicant day (plus, I was already certain Edge Hill was to be my firm choice). However, I had the opportunity to work on the recent Applicant Day, both for the Money Advice Team, and the Biology Department.

First up in the day was a talk by the Money Advice Team. This covered specifically the loans, grants, and budgeting involved with university. Personally, I spoke in the presentation about budgeting at university from a student perspective, but more information was given by another team member on the intricacies of the loan system and also how the university delivers its scholarships.

After the morning finance talk, we moved onto the biological section of the day. This portion was for prospective students only (bar the department tours) and took place in the biosciences building. It started with Paul Ashton, the department head, giving an introductory talk about the biology department, its research, and staff. Whilst prospective students go off to this section of the day, parents and caregivers can attend a talk aimed specifically at them, providing more details on finance, UCAS, and accommodation.

After this, the students were split into three, based on the type of degree they have applied for. The university currently offers five undergraduate biological science degrees: BSc Biology, BSc Ecology & Conservation, BSc Human Biology, BSc Genetics, BSc Biotechnology. Those who chose either Genetics or Biotechnology did a genetics based practical, those who chose Ecology & Conservation an ecological practical, and those who chose Human Biology a human based practical. For anyone who chose straight Biology, they could pick which they preferred.

Despite my degree being in Genetics, I also have an ecological focus, so assisted another current student in supervising the prospective ecologists along with Anne Oxbrough, Reader in Ecology. After a presentation detailing the degree a bit more, and what modules and trips were available, the practical began. The ecological practical was centred around invertebrate identification, using microscopes and keys to identify specimens down to the class, if not the order.

Once the practical was over, building tours were given to anyone interested in viewing the department’s facilities, including a demonstration of the scanning electron microscope (SEM) and insectary. Also, the new Tech Hub’s top floor was available to be toured, showing the new labs that might be used primarily for biotechnology in the coming years.


On a separate note, current students may have noticed the flags up in the Hub – this is because it is Edge Hill’s first ever Pride week! Events still to come are: pride social tonight; a trans-exclusive sexual health workshop on Thursday; and a pride march around the campus on Friday, along with the showing of Rent in the Arts Centre for Free Film (and food) Friday.

nice one edge hill 👌 #prideweek

A photo posted by james 🌙 (@clokkerfoot) on Feb 6, 2017 at 1:32pm PST